‘I should have known’

Gatton Star - - NEWS -

A SOM­ER­SET coun­cil­lor rep­ri­manded for in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct to­wards a staff mem­ber says she ac­cepts she did the wrong thing.

Cheryl Gaedtke, who has been a coun­cil­lor since 2016 but started her ca­reer work­ing in the for­mer Kil­coy Shire Coun­cil in 1977, said she was only try­ing to do the right thing by a lo­cal busi­ness when she broke pro­to­col by car­bon-copy­ing a staff mem­ber into an email on Oc­to­ber 4, 2017.

The 2017-18 Som­er­set Re­gional Coun­cil An­nual re­port shows there were two or­ders made for Cr Gaedtke un­der sec­tion 181 of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act 2009.

It was con­sid­ered the coun­cil­lor had en­gaged in in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct when she emailed a staff mem­ber seek­ing to pro­mote the in­ter­ests of a lo­cal busi­ness.

The staff mem­ber re­ported the email to coun­cil CEO Bob Bain and the mat­ter was re­ferred to the CEO of the Depart­ment of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment.

Two or­ders were made; one rep­ri­mand­ing Cr Gaedtke for the in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct, and an­other or­der that any re­peat of the con­duct, which amounted to a fail­ure to com­ply with the coun­cil’s Ac­cept­able Re­quest Guide­lines, be re­ferred to a re­gional con­duct re­view panel as mis­con­duct.

The guide­lines stip­u­late coun­cil­lors can­not ap­proach lower-rank­ing staff to re­quest in­for­ma­tion out­side their area of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Cr Gaedtke said she ac­cepted she broke pro­to­col but her in­ten­tion was only to help a lo­cal busi­ness.

“Some con­trac­tors from our re­gion were try­ing to make them­selves known to coun­cil,” she said.

“This busi­ness wanted to be recog­nised and I was try­ing to help them. The pol­icy is in black and white and I did the wrong thing. I should have known.

“I have been an em­ployee of coun­cil for so long – I started as a ju­nior clerk typ­ist in Kil­coy as a 15 or 16-year-old in 1977 – but this is the way lo­cal gov­ern­ment is chang­ing.

“You can­not be seen to be do­ing the wrong thing.”

—An­drew Korner

PHOTO: FILE

OWN­ING UP: Som­er­set Re­gional Coun­cil­lor Cheryl Gaedtke.

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